Working mum
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Mums: Learn how to create success on your own terms

Guest post by Nicky Raby, a life coach, actor, writer & mama

Before you became a parent there was always a lot of chat.

What are you wearing on Saturday night?

Is he the one?

Do you want children?

Is he good in bed?’… I’m not sure it would be appropriate to ask one of my pals this question these days?!

Then if you choose to become a parent, all the questions will follow and the volume of chatter is turned right up.

Do you think you will stay in London?

Are you going to buy a bigger house?

Are you going to have more children?

How do you feel about work?

Many of my clients come to me because they would like some support as they figure out their next move. Parenthood changes everything. Often we discuss work, career, doing more of what they love, developing a business idea and/or creating their own pic ’n’ mix version of success.

The word success means something different to each individual. That’s why working with a coach is so useful because I can help you figure out your version of success.

The ‘online’ version may be a laptop lifestyle with a 7-figure business jetting around the world. I would love to be a 7-figure business owner but I also have to consider my responsibilities as a mum. With a lairy 19-month-old baby, jetting around the world on long haul flights is not necessarily my idea of heaven. However, the idea of spending quality time with him and going on adventures that will stretch his mind, that lights up my world. There will be time for travelling later on.

Before I offer you some strategies, I would love to share something with you. No-one has everything sorted all of the time. Perfection is a myth. I have worked with clients who, according to their Instagram grid, have everything sorted in a effortlessly Scandi way, but have plans they want to bring to fruition and can’t seem to figure out the first step.

You may have seen my head shots and thought ‘It’s ok for her, she has good hair’. Yep, I do. It is malleable and grows quickly (I could actually sit on it a few months into motherhood- it was a little trampy rather than Disney princess!) but do I think I have the perfect bikini body?! Hell no!

So even if the beautiful filters of Instagram try to trick you into thinking that everyone else has sussed it while you are still trying to get out of bed, give yourself a break. Take the first step. Besides, your version of success may be completely different to theirs and that is all kinds of ace.

  • What do you want? If the five-year plan looks scary, just think about the next year ahead. I often ask my clients to complete the ‘Be, Do, Have’ exercise. Grab a piece of paper and draw three columns and then title each with ‘Be’ ‘Do’ ‘Have’. Write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t edit or hold yourself back, dream big, believe great things are waiting for you (because they are and you just have to step into them)
  • What is important to you? These may be simply words  – e.g. ‘work’ ‘family’ ‘fun’ – but see if you can define them more deeply. Family could mean picking your children up from school. Being available for school assemblies. Or a family holiday twice a year or not working at the weekend. Scribble your ideas down.
  • Your non-negotiables. These could be relatively small wins: a full fridge, regular exercise, money to spend on your age-defying moisturiser or a bed that is lined with Egyptian cotton and matching cushions. Writing down the details of what you need in your daily/weekly life will bring much clarity. Plus, they may not be what you think!
  • What is your Why? What is your bigger reason? Knowing the purpose of all your efforts and daily activities is not only a great motivator but also allows you to track your progress. Ultimately, you may want to move out of London so you can open a wellness centre or run your own freelance graphic design business. Or work in the city five days a week and then turn off your phone on Saturday and Sunday.
  • What is the next step for you and how can you support your success? It could be booking a workshop, a course, attending a talk or reading a book. You may have to dig out some old business books you have. Or unfollow some people on social media because they are distracting your progress. Whatever you need to do, do it. Keep moving forward and listening to your intuition. You alone know what is best for you and your family. You can’t get this wrong because you know your situation. Plus, there are so many variables and no two paths are the same. So, if some uninvited and unwelcome ‘friendly’ advice comes your way from someone who vaguely does the same thing as you,  you can choose what you do with the information, and figure out whether it applies to you or not.

I have a free video series which will help you expand the points above with a step-by-step guide: www.nickyraby.com/lifeaftermaternityleave 

I am also available for 1:1 coaching: www.nickyraby.com/coaching and across social media @nickyraby

Defining success on your own terms - Nicky Raby
Creating success on your own terms – Nicky Raby
MumBoss, Parenting

Managing work when your child isn’t sleeping

My son is going through a bit of a tricky phase at the moment. Whether it’s the cough he’s had for the last few weeks, the fact that my working routine has changed and I’m not around quite so much, or because he’s worried about our upcoming house move, he’s not been himself of late. He’s being difficult at mealtimes, acting up when we’re out of the house, refusing to go to bed and calling out for us several times in the night. While I’m not worried, and know that this phase will pass like so many other difficult phases before, the immediate impact on our day-to-day lives is an issue. For me, I’m tired, sluggish and feeling run down. But, as a working mum, I still have a job to go to and work to get done.

So here are some coping strategies I’ve learned in the past few weeks. Hopefully they will help you too if you’re ever in the same position. (PS this is all about getting YOU through your working day, and not about getting your child back on track. That’s a whole other blog post and requires a better parent than me to write it (guest post anyone..?)!)

  1. Cut yourself some slack. As I sit here writing this, I was supposed to be out for a run. But I’m tired. Yes, maybe my jeans will feel a bit tighter next week as depleted energy levels have resulting in my eating more and exercising less. But that’s ok. It has to be ok. I’ve reminded myself several times over the last few weeks that the size of my bum is not the most important thing right now…
  2. Focus on your to-do list. Now, more than ever, you need to prioritise. Ditch Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, Slack (seriously, how do we ever get any work done??) and just concentrate on the task in hand. Focus on the three things you need to do in a given day, and don’t let yourself be distracted by anything else until you have those things done. You could try setting a timer, e.g. 20 minutes, to get your head down on a single task without distraction, and then 5 mins to have a little walk (and a PEEK at Instagram) and then back to 20 mins of concentrated work again.
  3. Ask for help. Now is the time to post that melodramatic Facebook status you would normally mock. An example: “FML. Srsly not coping. Need help.” Then reply to everyone who comments: “Will PM you babes”. The offers will come flooding in (…OK, a few people might unfriend you, but you don’t have time for all of those friends anyway).
  4. Tag team with your other half. When your little one is going through a difficult phase, it can trigger a massive working mum guilt attack. But the world doesn’t stop because your child isn’t sleeping, and you still have work to do. If you have a partner, remember that your child is his/her responsibility too, and you need to hand over the reins from time to time, for your own sanity. If they’re not being helpful, then please do feel free to use their credit card to…
  5. Throw money at the situation. Order your grocery shopping online and pay for same day delivery so you don’t have to go to the shops. Order takeout when you haven’t got the energy to cook. Get a taxi to work so you can have a few more minutes in bed. Do what it takes and allow yourself to spend that money. Just ask yourself ‘What would fellow down-to-earth working mum Beyoncé do?’ And do that.
  6. Eat sensibly. When you’re tired, the temptation is to eat lots of sugary foods and drink coffee by the bucketful. However, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to your diet, and avoid getting caught in the sugar crash cycle (she says through a mouthful of Malteasers… will try harder tomorrow).
  7. Prioritise rest. If you’re behind on work, it is so tempting to stay up late to catch up, but this will only make you more tired the next day, which will make you fall further behind. Give yourself a bedtime, and stick to it religiously. And, in order to get a good night’s sleep…
  8. Say no to the vino. That’s you, not me, btw.
  9. Throw out the rulebook. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. When you’re tired and just need a break, consider letting your child do things you wouldn’t normally let them do, such as have breakfast in front of Cbeebies if it gives you time to fire off a couple of emails. Give them the iPad in bed in the morning if means you can snooze a bit longer. It’s all about survival ladies! Principles can wait until you’ve had a bit more sleep.
  10. Take time off work. If the situation gets really bad, and you’re exhausted, take a day off work to catch up on some rest. No working mum I know ever wants to take a day off for anything child-related in fear of being judged, but, reality check, you ARE a mum, and there’s no getting away from it. If you really don’t want to admit that you’re struggling at home, fake a colonic and no-one will ask questions.

I would love to hear any other tips you might have that could help poor exhausted working mums like me! Please share them in the comments below x